News and Press Releases

Three Sentenced in Conspiracy to Commit Visa Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2013

Wilfredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), announced the sentencing of three defendants who had engaged in a visa fraud case.

At today’s sentencing, that U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Sarah Tipfun to 60 months in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release. Chatchai Nakornprai, a/k/a Tony, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release. Defendant Boonting Nuampaton, a/k/a Tina, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, to be followed by 1 year of supervised release. The defendants had previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud and bribery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 and 1546, and 201(b)(1)(A).

According to the factual proffer submitted in connection with the plea, Sara Tipfun owned two Thai restaurants in the Treasure Coast and was attempting to obtain fraudulent immigration documents for her employees. During the investigation, an undercover agent (UCA) posing as a corrupt ICE agent who could fraudulently obtain and sell genuine Lawful Permanent Resident Cards (otherwise known as I-551 cards or green cards) was introduced to Tipfun.

From December 2011 to October 11, 2012, Tipfun, Nakornprai, Nuampatona and others arranged for 43 Thai nationals to meet with the UCA in an attempt to buy illegal green cards. The UCA conducted several undercover meetings with others in order to process (i.e., photograph and fingerprint) the aliens and obtain completed I-485 forms (green card applications) from them. All of these meetings were audio-recorded. During these meetings, the UCA was introduced to other restaurant owners who also participated in the scheme. Some of these owners recruited and transported aliens to and from the meetings with the UCA, helped the aliens fill out I-485 forms and gather their immigration documents, lent some of the aliens money to purchase the illegal green cards and, according to Tipfun, charged the aliens additional money on top of the price of the green card for introducing the alien to Tipfun and the UCA.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI, ICE-ERO, U.S. Marshal’s Office, and the Florida Department of Alcohol and Tobacco. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shaniek Maynard, Carmen Lineberger and Antonia Barnes.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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